Case Study

Don Parker Milliamp Technologies Design Engineer

Below Don tells us a bit more about his role at Milliamp Technologies as a recent graduate.  Working as a design engineer, Don is involved in cutting edge technology research and development, including design of electronics hardware, embedded software and mechanical components for a variety of interesting products – from the Internet of Things to high reliability industrial control systems:

“As a Design Engineer at Milliamp Technologies, I have had the opportunity to research and develop ideas for new products and systems and improve existing designs for both Milliamp’s external customers and a number of internal projects some of which are very interesting in crazy ways.

Designing or modifying an electronic solution, applying electronic principles and modelling design in CAD, to create an efficient and effective solution for customers is key to my role. Internally developing new products and prototyping to provide solutions that can break into new and growing markets is also key to Milliamp’s long term goals.

On a day to day I could be working with specifications, creating or modifying PCB schematics, laying out and tracking PCBs in CAD, identifying the mechanical aspects of systems and providing integration solutions and programming with embedded software.

On leaving High School in the Turks and Caicos Islands, I enjoyed subjects like Maths, Physics and IT and teachers pointed me to engineering but had no clue where to start or what that would even look like. So when it was time to move onto further study, I started looking into engineering and it was quickly a hit with a vast array of options for disciplines and subdisciplines. So I start looking for general engineering courses or any subject group that would give me entry in the field at the college level. The search landed me at York College, where I initially took up A-levels in Maths/ Further Maths, Physics and Engineering & Product Design.

In my first year, I began to discover and understand the importance, responsibility and honestly the amount of fun engineers have created all kinds of systems and products that help people and societies. In my second year, I decided to focus my studies more on engineering so I dropped a few A levels to take on a BTEC L3 Mechanical/Manufacturing Engineering course alongside my A level Engineering. In my group in college, I was among the set with very little technical know-how and academic knowledge on the engineering field, but by the end, I was among the top in my year even receiving a student of the year award.

The 3 years spent at college has given me a good foundation of mechanical engineering principles, health & safety, quality assurance, electrical/ electronic engineering principles and the engineering product design and manufacturing process. As well a good practical appreciation for performing engineering operations like filing & fitting, lathe work and other common manufacturing techniques.

I left college with a vision in mind I wanted a course that would allow me to specialise in more than one field of engineering and a trusted tutor suggested mechatronics – which is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on both electronic & electrical and mechanical systems & engineering – perfect! This brought me to Lancaster University. Over the 4 years on a Master of Engineering programme, I have had many opportunities to problem solve, design and prototype engineering systems and products all this was woven throughout the entire degrees scheme.

At Milliamp, I have been given to opportunity deepen and broaden my understanding and skill sets within mechatronics, explicitly focusing on electrical and electronic system design and prototyping as well branching out into field such as software engineering. I have learned a lot since I started working at Milliamp as there is a lot of industry specific knowledge, processes and activities which I didn’t really know about until I entered industry. This has meant I have had to continually learn a number of industry skills which are normally hard to gain if you are outside the industry.”